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California Adopts Framework for Teaching Science

The state of California has become the first state in the nation to adopt a framework for teaching science that's based on the Next Generation Science Standards.

The state Board of Education voted this week to adopt the Science Framework, which includes guidance for teaching science for kids in transitional kindergarten to 12th grade. Transitional kindergarten is a special program for kids who just miss the cutoff to start kindergarten due to birthdays between September 2 and December 2.

The state has been working on developing such a framework since it adopted the Next Generation Science Standards in 2013.

"This framework will help our students become the scientists and technology leaders of the future as well as citizens who are knowledgeable and understanding of the natural world and the environment," said Tom Torlakson, California's state superintendent of public instruction, in a press release. "It will also help produce the well-educated, innovative workers needed by all of our employers, but especially our high-tech companies, which are some of the most advanced companies humankind has ever seen."

California's Science Framework includes engineering for the first time along with environmental literacy and an expanded discussion of climate change. It also encourages teachers to serve more as facilitators and allow students to do more hands-on learning through experiments.

The public played a big role in developing this framework. The process included more than 3,000 public comments, and the California Science Teachers Association sponsored more than 30 different focus groups throughout the state to solicit feedback.

In two years, the state board is expected to adopt textbooks that align with the standards and the framework.

Students in 5th and 8th grade along with some 10th, 11th and 12th graders will take a pilot test that will reflect the standards and framework next spring.

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